Cannes Lions

Delta @ CES: The New Feel of Flight

DIGITAS, Atlanta / DELTA AIR / 2020

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Overview

Background

CES, the world’s largest stage for innovation, is known for big, splashy tech. But in January 2020, Delta became the FIRST airline to debut at CES.

Delta’s investments in innovation have helped them climb to the top of the industry. They not only have a vision for the future of travel—but also the ability to make it real. After Delta CEO Ed Bastian appeared at CES in 2019 as part of IBM’s Keynote, Delta knew they had an impactful story of innovation to tell––one that could improve the lives of millions of travelers each year. So, Delta set out to create an experience that put the “C” (the consumer) back in CES and with it, earn media attention and strengthen the perception of Delta as an innovative brand.

Idea

Delta set out to contrast the chaotic, hectic CES experience with their vision for the future of travel—one that’s welcoming, calm and effortless. In a warm 5,400 square foot haven, Delta surrounded guests with serene skies, tactile materials and futuristic forms. The space was designed for interaction with the innovations and with people, inviting guests to FEEL the future of travel. Delta’s presence was a notable contrast to what guests expect from CES, attracting press and visitors from across the globe.

Strategy

How do you bring a 95-year-old brand to the world’s stage for innovation? Delta knew they’d be alongside tech giants like Google, Samsung, LG, IBM… all with shiny gadgets and touchable demos. They’d also be in the path of global press, tech industry enthusiasts, and corporate attendees, many of whom are Delta customers and ALL of whom traveled to get to CES.

Delta set out to create an experience that seamlessly reflected their commitment to the human experience. Our narrative stayed consistent with this, and we focused media pitches on 3 key stories:

- Groundbreaking Parallel Reality displays, which allow different people looking at the same screen to see unique messages.

- The world’s first untethered, full-body exoskeleton, which help more employees work more safely.

- The more intuitive travel experience, anchored by the future Fly Delta app.

Press coverage during the event was boosted with a paid media strategy.

Execution

Delta debuted at CES with a multi-prong approach, 11 months in the making. CEO Ed Bastian gave the opening keynote speech to standing-room-only crowds. The fulcrum of Delta’s presence was the 5,400 square foot Central Hall experience. From the color palette, inspired by serene skies at cruising altitude, to interactive exhibits guided by Delta employees, every detail was crafted so guests could explore how the future of travel will FEEL.

The experience beckoned with lighting design that changed from dawn to dusk. A curved LED video wall featuring a Delta jet was visible from the show floor entrance, hundreds of feet away.

Inside, guests explored 4 industry-first innovations. The most groundbreaking was the Parallel Reality experience, which allows passengers looking at the same screen to see entirely different content. And traffic stopped to see the world’s first untethered, full-bodied exoskeleton.

Outcome

Delta’s mission to be seen as an innovator was certainly achieved. They exceeded all KPIs set for the endeavor.

Delta earned media coverage from press outlets across the world—estimated at 16MM+ Impressions. The CES show floor experience not only had expectation-breaking traffic, it was the #1 trending booth on Day 2 of the event, and reservations for the Parallel Reality experience were booked within the first 24 hours. Delta’s brand experience not only surprised, but absolutely delighted, and as a result garnered 6 Best of Show awards from outlets including Mashable, Newsweek and USA Today.

In reviewing Delta’s CES debut under CEO Ed Bastian’s leadership, Forbes summed it up, ”It was a siren call to the entire aviation industry, whose leaders now face a choice: Invest in new tech, or get left in the dust. Delta’s dust, specifically, which Bastian makes look like glitter.”

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